The Art Experience

Back To The Drawing Board

This is a simple exercise, to help jumpstart you back to drawing -- the true basics of looking at an object and learning to really see it, and then letting your hand trust your eyes and render it on paper. I have used this process personally, and found it to be fast, fun, and painlessly effective. Try it!:

Exercise I:

Each morning, before the madness and mayhem of your everyday life begins, take a sheet of paper and any drawing medium you prefer -- pencil, pen or marker. Select one object you use everyday, and set it on the table before you.

If it is your coffee cup, just draw that. If it is your hairbrush, or running shoe, whatever you desire: the choice is yours to make.

Now, take a deep breath, look at the object, and simply begin to draw what you see before you. You can make no mistakes, because it is a drawing, not a test. Make sure you are continually looking at it as you draw. Let your eyes guide your hand -- ultimately, they will do this automatically. Really.

Draw your picture anyway you please -- a simple line drawing following the contour of the object; a rambling doodle; an energetic gesture drawing; a broad mass drawing without edges. Draw for no more than three minutes -- time yourself at first.

Then date the page on the back, and put your drawing in a folder.

JUST ONE MORE THING! You must draw this same object for one week. Consider it a courtship with your coffee mug, or getting to know your sneaker. Strange as this sounds, there is a reason for it.

At the end of the first week, lay the seven drawings out on the floor, or on a table, in random order, and pick out the drawing that captures the object best. Not merely a photo-reproduction of the object, but its spirit or essence. (Even a cup has a personality...)

Then order the drawings according to which you like most, and which you like least.

Now check the date. Was it the first that you prefer, or last or fourth drawing you did?

In most cases, the first few drawings may appear stiff and self-conscious. Toward the middle, artists free up a bit and start to "get it."

The last technically should be the best, as you have done this image seven times now. (Unless you are a Type A artist who freezes or tightens up when under pressure or scrutiny, needing to produce a "perfect piece." Then six will be your best.) Fear of failure is the Achilles heel of most artists. Just recognize it early and lighten up. We are all works in progress. And art actually is fun and relaxing!

You have just amassed seven new drawings for your portfolio. And for some of you, who have resumed an artistic career interrupted long, long ago: Welcome back to the wonder-full world of art! Having taken a circuitous path in my own career, I recognize the significance of this on a personal and professional basis.

Whether you realize it or not, you have learned many lessons by doing this simple exercise.

First, in art, practice really does make perfect. "Just doing it" is more than a cliche. "Being artistic" is a cultivated skill, not an inherited trait or mere talent. It takes work to achieve success in any field. A concert pianist must practice hours each day to maintain his skill.

Unfortunately, the common belief is that a true artist sits down at the easel and creates a masterpiece in minutes, perfect every time. The only difference between you and Picasso is about 60 years of drawing and painting and training, and living and breathing art from dawn till dusk, days into years, from childhood until death.

Most adults gave up their artistic careers in third grade. So after two or more decades of not drawing, it may take a while to get back into it.

The catch with art is, the ability is there, but you must HAVE THE WILL TO DEVELOP THE SKILL. And that comes simply by doing the work.

Drawing is the warm-up exercise for an artist, just like stretching is for a runner. If you exercise your body daily to stay healthy, then you must draw on a regular basis to stay creative. SO...

RULE #1: You must sketch every day, even if only for a few minutes. It will develop your eye to truly see things, your eye-hand coordination to really draw, and your mind, to truly believe and know that your are an artist.

RULE #2: Do not throw any of your artwork away! What you consider appalling today could be deemed fine art tomorrow. And, what you hold in your hand is a part of you, a reminder of what you have done, and all you have achieved.

Exercise II:

Continue to do one drawing daily -- minimum! Follow the same basic three minute studies, just to keep you loose and in touch with your artistic energy. Make your drawings more challenging by arranging more than one object, and doing longer sketches.

Hopefully you will be able to increase your drawing time, and begin experimenting with other mediums, such as paint or pastels. For those of you who need some basic information to begin, check out Resources .

If possible, consider taking a drawing or other type of art class. Working in a formalized setting, with trained instructors, live models, and other art students not only expands your knowledge of different mediums and techniques, but creates a stimulating environment to grow as an artist.

1. The Why of Art Mystic

2. Reconnecting With Life Through Art

3. Back To The Drawing Board

4. Resources And Other Tools For Artists

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